Granted, it was the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Cavaliers were extremely likely to win tonight’s final preseason game before they duel with the Brooklyn Nets next Tuesday. The 76ers looked terrible going into this preseason, and haven’t demonstrated anything to make us believe that anyone was wrong about that. However, the Cavaliers looked pretty solid tonight, with a 104-93 dispatching of the Sixers behind excellent team ball movement and offensive efficiency.
The Cavs had 30 team assists on the night, and leading the charge, of course, was Kyrie Irving. Irving had 12 assists to go along with 17 points on 6-10 shooting. Kyrie was directly responsible for 7 of the Cavs’ first 11 buckets, and only continued to demolish a very suspect group of point guards for Philadelphia. Jermaine Taylor also overcame a terrible shooting night to switch into a distributor, with 6 assists for himself.
The Cavs’ excellent ball movement translated into great shooting nights for several of the Cavs’ unsung scoring options. Playing without Dion Waiters and Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson, Henry Sims and Alonzo Gee filled the scoring void. Thompson led the way with an absurd 7-11 shooting night, finishing with 15 points and 16 rebounds. He also didn’t miss a jumper, hitting all three of his shots from outside the paint. It was a dominant offensive performance from Thompson. Gee also hit 4-6 from three, and Henry Sims went perfect from the field, as both finished with 14 points. These are the strange things that happen when you face the 13-14 Philadelphia 76ers.
Defensively, the Cavs got a solid bit of help from the 76ers own ineptitude. The interior defense looked strong, not allowing Evan Turner to get a solid look off inside the paint. Granted, it was very difficult to tell how much of Turner’s 4-13 shooting effort was due to the Cavs D, and how much was due to Evan Turner being Evan Turner.
Kyrie Irving also looked good on defense, through very little effort of his own. Michael Carter-Williams went 1-11 for 5 points on the night, Tony Wroten air balled 3 shots, and Darius Morris added two more air balls to the equation. It was hard to not look strong on the defensive end when that is what is being thrown at you.
Finally, Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev both looked strong tonight. It was quite apparent that Bennett flipped his “On” switch before the game, as he was very active in transition, flashing his immense promise as a fast break wrecking ball, and also giving strong effort, albeit combined with a total lack of understanding, on the defensive end. Karasev, meanwhile, displayed his great offensive IQ throughout the game, and although his shot wasn’t falling, he didn’t display one bit of fear to keep firing away from deep. Karasev did exit the game with an ankle injury late, but the prognosis didn’t appear serious, and with a little rehab, he shouldn’t miss any regular season time to the injury, if any.
Overall, it’s tough to say anything definitive after this game. The Cavs looked strong, but this was a game where they were supposed to. The young guys played well, which was nice, and it was good to see the Cavs actively work to shut down a hapless 76ers team. I’ll take this game as the final tune-up, and now we get a week of rest before dueling Brooklyn on Tuesday. Can’t wait.